The Internet Telephony Services Providers’ Association (ITSPA) is cautious about proposals from Ofcom to tackle problems that arise when consumers want to switch fixed-line telephony provider. The Ofcom proposals are included in their Annual Plan for 2018/19 and primarily focus on number portability.
Number portability refers to consumer rights to retain their number when they switch to different landline or mobile providers.
A submission was made to Ofcom’s proposed Annual Plan which criticised their lack of any action in this matter, Ofcom have now agreed certain activity in some specific areas. They plan to review a proposal from the Office of the Telecommunications Adjudicator (OTA), produced in conjunction with ITSPA members, they have also promised to look into complaints made against telecoms providers not meeting their obligation to provide portability.
The Chair of ITSPA, Eli Katz, said that he supported these changes but reiterated that ITSPA wanted to see more action from Ofcom. He said: “There is some tentative optimism amongst ITSPA members that Ofcom are starting to take this issue more seriously. We believe that the feedback in the Annual Plan show that Ofcom recognises the widespread concerns with the number porting system and is willing to make progress in resolving the longstanding problems. However, it is clear that Ofcom needs to go further if it is really serious about forcing the industry to act.
“We have long called for Ofcom to set out clear timescales within which providers must establish porting arrangements and then undertake switches. This would force an industry to adjust behaviour quickly and would be a truly significant step in addressing the harm caused to businesses of all size who are bearing the brunt of the consequences of inaction. ITSPA does, however, remain hopeful that today’s announcement marks a change in direction and the output from the OTA kickstarts some general progress on this issue that hurts both our members, the UK SME business community and public sector organisations.”
He added that ITSPA concern is just one of several worries as the switch over to All IP takes off. He added: “As the transition from copper-based products to IP intensifies, it is increasingly important that the regulatory regime encourages competition and does not simply favour the incumbent or the larger players. The last-minute price increase around Openreach’s 40/10 broadband package within the Wholesale Local Access Market statement published today is a case in point. The move to IP networks is indeed a welcome move for our industry but there is the danger that the transition phase unfairly squeezes the smaller players, as their larger competitors use their clout to land grab in areas where the regulatory regimes are yet to have been set. Ofcom and the government need to bear this in mind when making specific decisions in the next few years.”
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